Dumpster Diving with Grandpa

This week is the one year anniversary of the passing of my Grandma Germaine and the two year anniversary of the passing of Luke’s Grandpa Roy.

We’ve been thinking and talking about our lost grandparents with each other and with our families. There’s a comfort in sharing stories about someone who has passed – knowing that they live on in your memories.

There’s one story that Luke told me I thought was pretty funny. He agreed to write it up to share with all of you:

As a 9 year old, nothing was more important to me than money. Well, not money exactly, but what it could buy – specifically baseball cards. Socking away a portion of my weekly $5 allowance for other essentials (such as new baseballs, baseball mitts, baseball cleats, baseball bats, baseball batting gloves, etc.), I could only reasonably afford to buy about 8 packs a week.

That just wasn’t going to cut it if I was ever going to pay for my entire college education in baseball cards.

After inquiring why MI 10 was stamped on every pop (yes, pop) can and being informed that the state of Michigan pays out 10 cents for every recycled can, it didn’t take long for me to connect the dots. There was gold in them thar dumpsters at the golf course next to my house where aluminum cans were being tossed by the hundreds daily.

My grandpa stepped up to the plate and volunteered to help me collect aluminum cans, no doubt because he also saw the huge payoff down the road of a free college education via wise investments in baseball cards (or perhaps he because he wanted to spend time with me).

Whenever possible, he would come pick me up in his golf cart and take me to the golf course dumpsters, where he would pick me up so I could climb into the dumpsters and start tossing out the cans.   Although it smelled disgusting and there were a lot of unknown liquids that would get on me, but I didn’t mind because baseball cards were that important.

By the end of the summer, grandpa’s entire basement was filled with garbage bags full of cans.

He began listening to the radio daily waiting for the highest daily aluminum price so we could maximize our value. The day finally came when aluminum reached the grand price of what must have been about 7 cents a ton.

We loaded up the dump truck, hauled the cans to the recycling center, and walked away with the spectacular sum of $137.50. A summer of hard work dumpster diving in the sun and the big payoff was in hand.

To thank my grandpa, I took him to the finest restaurant in all of Plymouth, Indiana – Pizza Hut. Even after that extravagance, I still had enough cash leftover to buy what was surely two college educations worth of baseball cards.

College is over, and the baseball cards remain in my parents’ basement (taking  up about as much space as all those cans did once upon a time). Every time I see them I think back to that summer and all the time my grandpa spent with me.

Luke and Grandpa Roy